Testosterone is a hormone the body produces in both men and women, although men have much higher levels. As some men get older, the amount of testosterone their body produces can start to decrease, causing fatigue, poor concentration, inability to build muscle and/or a decrease in libido. These can be signs of other illnesses as well, which is why it is important to talk with your provider if you consistently experience these symptoms.
Testing a man’s testosterone levels is fairly simple and only requires a few blood tests over a period of time. If his levels are consistently low, he can discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with his provider. Taking testosterone can help men feel better, increase their energy levels, build muscle, reduce the chance of osteoporosis, have healthier vascular function and improved erectile function. However, testosterone supplements also carry risks, like an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, testicular atrophy and rage. It can also worsen untreated prostate cancer. Once a man starts taking testosterone it’s hard to stop because the body may further reduce its production of testosterone during treatment.
There are a few primary forms of treatment: a lotion, gel, patch or regular injections. If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone, talk to your primary care provider about what is best for them. Your provider can walk you through all of the risks and benefits, and come up with a plan that fits your individual needs. If testosterone supplements are the best course of action, your provider will monitor your treatment closely and make any changes as needed.
Dr. Benjamin Herrick is a urologist in Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. He received a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from the University of North Carolina in 2000 and his master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown in 2004. Dr. Herrick also received a Doctor of Medicine from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in 2008. He completed his residency in general surgery in 2010 and in urology in 2014 at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.